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What is the most important skill in poker?

July 7, 2023
by Zsolt

There are many skills possessed by poker’s elite players.

But what are the most important skills when you’re just starting out or trying to move up in stakes?

We asked high stakes pro, prominent poker coach, and the winner of the 2023 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) $10K Main Event, Felipe “lipe piv” Boianovsky, what skills he looks for in new students.

Then, we open up the floor to the PokerStars community.

There are some useful words of wisdom here. Have a read.

Felipe Boianovsky

“The first thing that makes me think a student has big potential is their curiosity. The way they ask questions during a session reveals a lot about their thirst for knowledge and that’s really important as a player.

A common leak I see is when students are more worried about showing a coach how much they already know rather than learning new things. This is a natural thing for human beings, we’re always looking for approval.

But it definitely gets in the way of learning because they don’t get as much as they could from a coaching session. Instead of being completely focused on learning and getting better, they waste too much energy trying to show off.”


“3 things! Patience. Patience. Patience.” – Anthony Whipple

“Patience. Getting emotional and taking chances is never wise. Know the odds and play accordingly.” – Dave Shepherd

“Patience. Doesn’t matter if you’ve folded every hand this round or every hand for the last hour….don’t get impatient and change your range/game strategy just because the cards aren’t hitting.” – Joshua Bradner

Knowing when to Fold

“Knowing when you’re beaten and when to fold. Also taking emotion out of the game when you’re tilted, don’t chase a pot because you’ve got a vendetta against someone who just gave you a bad beat.” – Shaun Littler

“Knowing you are beat, and folding. As a dealer, I see too many people who know they do not have the best hand, but call off their chips anyway because they had aces or they had a jack-high flush, a set, etc.” – Brandon Stewart

“Know when to fold a good hand.” – Lo J Chan

Avoiding Tilt

“Mindset. Yes, it’s a skill to control your mind and be able to keep your composure and stay focused.” – Jan Vdd

“Emotional control with bankroll management. They go hand in hand.” – Connor Manion

“A positive mindset with reasonable expectations.” – Herbivorous Crepuscular

“Being able to adjust your game and not tilt. All abilities are important but holding your cool and letting your logic and math do the work.” – Brian Mannle

“From Ocean’s Eleven…”Leave your emotions at the door.” – Dan Warner

Good Bankroll Management

“It’s bankroll management combined with tilt control. Makes all the difference, especially when you’re just getting started and learning to build on other skills/knowledge. A player who is mediocre will last longer than someone who knows more but doesn’t exercise BRM and blows up after every bad beat.” – Elijah Cross

“Discipline and bankroll management are most of the work, in my opinion. The rest falls into place if you’re putting in a reasonable effort into learning the game.” – Shane Vaters

“Endurance. Not only to handle the downswing but to keep showing up day after day and keep playing your A-game regardless of the result.” – Francois Gauthier

Other Important Skills

“Strong knowledge of math. Knowing hand odds and pot odds. Being able to apply the math to each street so you’re always making the +ev plays.” – Ron Sutherland

“How you treat others with respect at the table, especially dealers. We are all human.” – Brian Potter

“Understanding relative hand strength. If you get that early, you lose less [while] learning.” – Brett Berry

“Being well rounded at everything. Position, EV, pot odds, percentages, reading ability, knowing how players play, and knowing changing your game. The best players in the world can do it all. That is why they are the best.” – Matthew del Campo

“The ability to know when to change gears and adapt to your opponents.” – Stephen Nay

“Putting your opponents on the correct hand ranges.” – Rob Di Memmo

“There are many skills needed. I would say for online poker: statistical analysis, pattern recognition (with attention to detail), patience, mental calmness, and a strategic mind are the most important. In that order.” – Daniel Bækgaard Skeie

“Recognizing behavioural patterns and bet sizing.” – Kayne Eff

“Understanding the power of position and acting accordingly.” – Shari Silk

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